Putting the Pieces Together

ReachOut: Putting the Pieces Together from Central Valley Ag on Vimeo.

by Mike Zwingman

by Mike Zwingman

I spent some time in a neighboring state a few weeks ago and got the opportunity to see firsthand the issues facing that state when it comes to Nitrogen. We hear a lot about how as an industry we need to find a way to be more sustainable, but to this point no one has talked about the foundation of sustainability, and that is profitability. We need to manage this and other sensitive issues not just from one side but from all sides to achieve our long-term goals.

In the next year, you will see and hear me talk more about Nitrogen and water as being two things that we are going to have to continue to get better using all the time. Both of these things take management of the entire system, not just managing them at one single point in time.   I want you to be thinking about Nitrogen management every day and more importantly how each decision makes an impact on the efficiency of Nitrogen use as a whole. Improving our awareness of the way things are interconnected will make a noticeable change in our efficiency.

Understanding the interactions of Nitrogen in both how the cycle of the soil works along with the usage, form and timing preferences of high yielding corn system can be complicated. I will argue that if someone says that they have it all figured out they probably don’t, me included. I have learned enough to know that I may not know enough to have this completely mastered, but that has forced me to go out and learn from others who are also working to master this issue.nitrogen

In the next year you are going to see a focus on all aspects of Nitrogen management. How N-Stabilizers work and when and where to deploy them. How the effects of timing play a role. How the Nitrogen models help us stay agile in season and help us make better decisions. So, in RD trials you are going to see these things tested individually and then together to see how they interact to increase your efficiency, profitability, and at the end of it all sustainability. This will be an interesting ride, and I have a hunch we will always end up with more questions than answers. But that is only because as we answer the first set of questions we will level up to a whole new set of questions.

Blue-Box-e1409667504172The focus on how we utilize nutrients and resources is not going to go away, a matter of fact the scrutiny of both consumers and regulatory bodies is only going to get tighter. The issues in Iowa and California matter to Nebraska, maybe not today, but in the future. With that being said, my commitment to you is to give you all the innovations and information to do the right thing every day. If we take the lead on this issues and are proactive, we will be able to maintain our way of life for future generations. This is going to take some changes, and some of them are going to be hard to swallow, but no growth comes without some pain. We are going to do this together because these issues are bigger than any one of us. I have said this before, and I will say it again, there has been no industry more innovative than production agriculture because our challenges are always real and always evolving. That necessity has always demanded us to get better and get better quick.

  • Shannon Townsend

    Interesting article. I agree the scrutiny is going to get tougher from the outside of agriculture but it is something we should have already been addressing in production ag. The technology exists to utilize our nutrient management programs more efficiently and profitably. The days of blow and go with a dry program should be coming to an end as we see lower commodity prices and input prices still staying high in comparison.
    Iowa State is figuring out to stop runoff from happening. by trying to trap it. I am all for being environmentally conscious but as a great friend of mine said-“they are studying the wrong things. they need to be figuring out how we are going to get more of what we are paying for into the growing crop.” This is a valid point as we can’t recoup the dollars that are getting away from us.
    We need to be working with a team that has the desire to see us succeed and reach our goals yield and otherwise in a profitable, efficient, and productive way. Mike you make a good point about some of these changes are going to be hard to swallow.